World’s largest water lily species blooms in Bengaluru

World’s largest water lily species blooms in Bengaluru

The Victoria Amazonica is 16 inches wide, and can be found in a pond on the GKVK campus

The Victoria Amazonica starts out white and then turns deep pink once fully bloomed. Photos by Sharath Ahuja

The Mahatma Gandhi Botanical Garden on Bellary Road is currently home to Victoria Amazonica, the largest species of the water lily family. The garden is located on the Gandhi Krishi Vigyan Kendra (GKVK) campus of the University of Agricultural Sciences. Founded in 1971 and spread across 63 acres, it is home to 1,000 species.

“I visit the university regularly and on one such visit I came across this giant flowering plant. Fascinated, I wanted to identify it and took pictures,” says Sharath Ahuja, retired technical officer, IISc.

Originally from the basins of the Amazon forests, this giant water lily with blossoms, typically 16 inches wide, is possibly the only one of its kind to be found in Bengaluru, says A N Sringeswara, curator of the garden. It came from the Kolkata Botanical Garden and blooms mainly from February to September. “After October, as the weather gets cold in Bengaluru, it takes a break from blooming for two to three months,” explains Sringeswara.

The ornamental plant is most known for its giant leaves and serene white flowers, which turn a vibrant pink colour after pollination. “There is a fascinating story behind this. These flowers only attract one particular kind of pollinating beetle. By evening, as the flower begins to close, the beetles are stuck inside. The next day, when it reopens, the beetles are freed and the flower turns a beautiful pink. This is a signal that there is no more pollen left,” Ahuja tells Metrolife

The lily pond which houses the giant water lily is also home to the famous Indian lotus flower. Rare finds like this, make the campus an extremely special place in the city. “This is why I like to call it ‘God’s Own Agricultural University’. It is a one-of-a-kind place,” he says.

The garden is one the most systematic in the country, built with the objective of helping students identify and classify plants. “Our second objective is to conserve the endemic and threatened plants of this region. We collect all endangered species in the Karnataka region and grow them here, multiply them and then distribute them among various institutions,” says Sringeswara. 

The garden has given out the Victoria Amazonica to many institutions across the country.